- Title: SOUTH AFRICA: Merkel backs all-inclusive EU-Africa summit
- Date: 6th October 2007
- Summary: (EU) PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA (OCTOBER 5, 2007) (REUTERS) GERMAN CHANCELLOR ANGELA MERKEL AND SOUTH AFRICAN PRESIDENT THABO MBEKI ARRIVING AT NEWS CONFERENCE GERMAN GOVERNMENT SPOKESMAN ULRICH WILHELM AND GERMAN COOPERATION AND DEVELOPMENT MINISTER HEIDEMARIE WIECZOREK-ZEUL SOUTH AFRICAN DELEGATION (SOUNDBITE) (German) GERMAN CHANCELLOR ANGELA MERKEL SAYING: "We haven't held an EU-Africa summit for many years, and I have always said that the German government's position is that we want to invite every member of the African Union, and that it is then up to each country how they are represented. We will raise criticism as may be but we will do so in the presence of everyone and everyone has the right to attend." PEOPLE LISTENING AT NEWS CONFERENCE (SOUNDBITE) (English) SOUTH AFRICAN PRESIDENT THABO MBEKI SAYING: "Both the ruling party and the opposition are committed to ensuring that those elections are indeed free and fair. So that is what we are dealing with, and we are quite confident that there will be a positive outcome. That will create the political conditions to address this very serious economic crisis in Zimbabwe. So good progress is being made, and as I say we are quite confident that quite soon those negotiations will be concluded successfully." DELEGATIONS LISTEING (SOUNDBITE) (German) GERMAN CHANCELLOR ANGELA MERKEL SAYING: "South Africa will have all the eyes of the world on it during the football World Cup, billions of people will be looking at the country, and so we want to try and help wherever you desire, and keep in close contact during the preparation for this World Cup. Our experience was that the image of Germany in the world was completely changed by this event." DELEGATIONS MERKEL AND MBEKI JOURNALISTS AT MEETING
- Embargoed: 21st October 2007 13:00
- Location: South Africa
- Country: South Africa
- Topics: International Relations
- Reuters ID: LVA4HO8B7K2SEG5YMBLOX0AX2AWT
- Story Text: German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday (October 5) described the crisis in Zimbabwe as "disastrous" after talks with South African President Thabo Mbeki, who has been criticised for not taking a tough line on the issue.
A source familiar with the meeting's agenda said earlier the German chancellor would try to persuade Mbeki to take a harder line with Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe. Critics accuse Mugabe of human rights abuses and of presiding over the collapse of Zimbabwe's economy, which has the world's highest inflation rate of about 6,600 percent and unemployment levels of about 80 percent.
Merkel, who put tackling poverty in Africa on the Group of Eight industrialised countries' agenda during her presidency of the grouping this year, has not signalled a willingness to follow British Prime Minister Gordon Brown's cue on Zimbabwe. Last month Brown said he would boycott an EU-Africa summit in Lisbon in December if Mugabe was invited. On Friday, Merkel reiterated her government's position that everybody should be invited to the summit.
"We will raise criticism as may be but we will do so in the presence of everyone and everyone has the right to attend," she said.
African leaders are threatening their own boycott if Mugabe does not attend the summit, which is aimed at tackling the continent's problems.
Mbeki has adopted a policy of "quiet diplomacy" toward Mugabe and has been mediating talks between Zimbabwe's ruling ZANU-PF party and the Movement for Democratic Change, the southern African nation's main opposition group. The South African president said good progress has been made in the negotiations between the Zimbabwean rivals.
"Both the ruling party and the opposition are committed to ensuring that those elections are indeed free and fair. So that is what we are dealing with, and we are quite confident, that there will be a positive outcome," Mbeki said after his talks with Merkel.
Mugabe, in power since independence from Britain in 1980, is subject to an EU travel ban, although it is expected that it would be suspended to allow him to attend the summit.
The Zimbabwean leader says the West has sabotaged his country's economy as punishment for his seizure of thousands of white-owned firms and the transfer of the land to poor blacks. His critics blame the problems on economic mismanagement.
Meanwhile Merkel passed her best wishes to the South African delegation for their preparations for the FIFA World Cup taking part in the country in 2010.
"South Africa will have all the eyes of the world on it during the football World Cup, billions of people will be looking at the country, and so we want to try and help wherever you desire, and keep in close contact during the preparation for this World Cup," she said.
Merkel will also be visiting the Soccer-City Stadium later on in her visit with the German Team Manager Oliver Bierhoff.
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